Tania Kovats highlights effects of coral bleaching through stunning new work

BLEACHED is a striking new sculpture created by artist Tania Kovats as her response to both the beauty of coral and its fragile position in the world’s ecosystem. 

The new work will be on display at C4DI @TheDock and The Deep from 29 July – 17 September, comissioned in collaboration with The Deep and Hull 2017 as part of Look Up, a series of temporary artworks being installed throughout Hull’s year as City of Culture. 

Tania Kovats first visited The Deep, one of the UK’s most spectacular aquariums, in spring 2016 and was captivated by their coral exhibit, describing it as an ‘underwater world of intensely rich colour and endlessly fascinating forms, and a ‘landscape of dreams’. 

I’m not sure any artist can directly change the world but artists are important witnesses that can choose to point at things that need to be seen more clearly. 

Tania Kovats 

As Tania began developing her ideas for this work, a major global coral bleaching event took place, unprecedented in its scale, with 93% of the Great Barrier Reef thought to be affected. Coral bleaching takes place as a result of rising sea temperatures; when the sea is too warm, corals expel the zooxanthellea algae that give them their brilliant colours leaving them ghostly bone white and at risk.  

The corals are not dead and can grow back given the correct conditions, but they are under extreme stress and very vulnerable. 

BLEACHED recycles specially fabricated coral from The Deep, salvaged from a previous display, which was decommissioned in 2016. Tania’s work creates a slice through a “bleached” coral reef, a starkly beautiful representation of a potentially devastating environmental event. 

Sam Hunt, Executive Producer at Hull 2017, said: ‘Tania Kovat’s new work for our Look Up programme expresses the anxiety there is about the environment and the impact of climate change. Perhaps because of Hull’s relationship to the sea, it is a theme that many artists have been concerned with this year. What it shows is how a thing of beauty can also be a warning, a trigger to get us thinking, talking, maybe even taking action.” 

BLEACHED is accompanied by other works by Tania, linked to themes of the ocean life and environment. At the C4DI exhibition space there are new drawings on canvas, Sea Mark, and existing sculptures of ocean bowls, Indian, Pacific and Atlantic. Showing in public areas at The Deep are the barnacle sculpture Colony made in response to her residency in the Galapagos Islands and a series of evaporation ink drawings.  

Tania Kovats’ practice encompasses drawing, sculpture, installation and commissions for the public realm. Her work is often concerned with the natural environment.  

Kovats said, “BLEACHED is my sculptural response to a clear indicator of how climate change and our lack of respect for our planet is impacting directly on the health of our oceans. I’m not sure any artist can directly change the world but artists are important witnesses that can choose to point at things that need to be seen more clearly.” 

Katy Duke, CEO from The Deep: “This is a stark representation of how our world’s reefs are responding to the effects of climate change and ocean acidification. The health of our oceans is intrinsically linked to the health of every living thing on the planet. Marine conservation is something that is often talked about, but few comprehend the impacts their daily choices have on the oceans. It’s fantastic to see such an important conservation message delivered in such a novel and engaging way.” 

BLEACHED by Tania Kovats is one of two works in Hull 2017’s third season, Freedom, focusing on the city’s relationship with the sea. The other installation, The Elephant in the Room by Claire Morgan, will be unveiled shortly. A third work taking place during the season This Is A Freedom of Expression Centre, is an exploration of protest and freedom of expression by Bob and Roberta Smith which will be on show at Hull School of Art & Design from 4 August. 

BLEACHED by Tania Kovats will be on display from 29 July – 17 September at C4DI @TheDock and The Deep and is free to view.